Thursday, August 16, 2007
my little town
Well, I just finished my weekly perusal of the Brodhead police reports. I think that any news from a small town (or maybe a hometown) has a certain melancholy about it. Good news makes me wish I had never left, and the other news makes me feel like the whole place has gone to pot. I guess I still care about the place.
I scan the records for names, and the names are getting younger and younger. Some kids who were in middle school when I left are getting booked and locked up for things like drunk driving and disorderly conduct. Sometimes it is guys older than me, guys who were track champions or basketball stars in high school. I suppose that I used to think only criminals did bad things and got themselves put in jail, but it turns out that pudgy little middle school kids do it too. When they are older, I mean. When I have been gone too long.
I suppose that the old timers in the community barely notice it any more. To them, the bad little kids and the dangerous criminals and the dirty old men are all one and the same, and maybe they are not surprised when the new generation matures to a life of alcoholism and domestic disturbance. For me it's still a weird feeling.
Reading it all might be a bad thing to do, due to its depressing nature, but I sort of feel like I need to know. I told another teacher about this once, an art teacher from some town in New York. I asked him if he ever looked at the police reports on the internet to see which of his classmates were in jail this week. He just said that yeah, he always looks.